The Cost of Indecision: Lessons from Cicero

More is lost by indecision than wrong decision…

Hüseyin GÜZEL


Image designed by Microsoft Copilot, “The Cost of Indecision: Lessons from Cicero” by Hüseyin GÜZEL

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, writer, and orator who lived in the first century BC. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest speakers and prose stylists in history, and his influence on the Latin language and literature is immense. He was also a keen observer and critic of the political and social events of his time, and his writings offer valuable insights into the turbulent era that saw the collapse of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

One of Cicero’s most famous quotes is “More is lost by indecision than wrong decision.” This quote reflects Cicero’s own experience and philosophy, as he often faced difficult choices and dilemmas in his life and career. He believed that inaction and hesitation were worse than making a mistake because they could lead to missed opportunities, wasted time, and regret.

He also argued that a wrong decision could be corrected or compensated for, but indecision could result in irreversible consequences.

Cicero’s quote is relevant and applicable to many situations in our modern world, where we are constantly faced with complex and uncertain scenarios that require us to make decisions. Whether it is about our personal, professional, or civic affairs, we often struggle to choose the best course of action among multiple alternatives or to act at all. We may fear making a wrong decision, or we may lack the information, confidence, or motivation to make a decision. We may also be influenced by external factors, such as peer pressure, social norms, or expectations.

Cicero’s wisdom holds a timeless truth.

The cost of indecision can be staggering. Hesitation can be a greater roadblock than making a wrong decision. The weight of indecision can be far more burdensome than the occasional wrong choice.

Every decision we make is a step forward, an opportunity to learn, and a chance to adapt.

The key to indecision is to embrace decision-making as a part of our journey. Every choice, whether right or wrong, brings valuable lessons and insights.

However, indecision can have negative impacts on our lives and on others. For example, indecision can:

  • Cause us to miss deadlines, opportunities, or goals.
  • Reduce our productivity, efficiency, or quality of work.
  • Increase our stress, anxiety, or frustration levels.
  • Damage our reputation, credibility, or relationships.
  • Prevent us from achieving our potential, learning from our mistakes, or growing as individuals.

Therefore, it is important to overcome indecision and to make decisions in a timely and effective manner. Some of the strategies that can help us do so are:

  • Clarify our objectives, values, and priorities.
  • Gather relevant information and data.
  • Analyze the pros and cons of each option.
  • Seek feedback or advice from others if needed.
  • Trust our intuition and judgment.
  • Commit to our decision and take action.
  • Evaluate the outcomes and adjust accordingly.

Of course, this does not mean that we should make rash or reckless decisions without careful consideration or consultation. It also does not mean that we should ignore the risks or consequences of our decisions. Rather, it means that we should balance between deliberation and action, between caution and courage, and between reason and emotion. It means that we should be willing to take responsibility for our decisions and learn from them.

Cicero’s quote reminds us that indecision can be costly and harmful. It also encourages us to be decisive and proactive in pursuing our goals and aspirations. By following Cicero’s example and advice, we can improve our decision-making skills and enhance our personal and professional lives.


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Hüseyin GÜZEL

EEE | PSM | Technical Editor & Writer | Siemens Mobility | Technical Library | Mentor of Sabancı Vakfı |